Navigation Links
Fundamental plant chemicals trace back to bacteria
Date:8/7/2014

MADISON, Wis. A fundamental chemical pathway that all plants use to create an essential amino acid needed by all animals to make proteins has now been traced to two groups of ancient bacteria. The pathway is also known for making hundreds of chemicals, including a compound that makes wood strong and the pigments that make red wine red.

"We have been trying to unravel the source of the phenylalanine amino acid for some time," says Hiroshi Maeda, an assistant professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Plants use this pathway to make natural products that are vital to plants and also to our food, medicine, fiber and fuel. One of the most important is lignin, found in the plant cell wall, which allows trees to stand tall and transport water."

Other scientists have traced plant metabolic pathways to fungi, "which are pretty close to plants in terms of evolution," Maeda says. "But in this case, the source is bacteria, which are more distant relatives."

In a study recently published in the online journal The Plant Cell, Maeda and his colleagues described how they traced the phenylalanine pathway to two groups of bacteria. "Our question was how plants can produce so many different kinds and amounts of these aromatics, particularly the phenylalanine-derived compounds," Maeda says.

During the study, Maeda and his colleagues, including John Jelesko of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, compared the genetic sequence for the plant phenylalanine pathway enzymes to a genetic database covering numerous organisms. "We asked the computer to fish out similar sequences, and we got thousands of sequences," Maeda says. "We took the closer sequences and did phylogenetic analysis. Essentially we were asking, 'Who is your closest sibling?'"

They found that the plant sequence was most similar to a class of bacteria called Chlorobi and Bacteroidetes. "This was surprising because when people do a similar analysis for other plant genes, they usually find the closest sequence in fungi, or in cyanobacteria whose ancestor came into plants and now make plants green and photosynthetic. Our results did not fit what people expected."

During follow-up experiments, the researchers arranged the protein sequences from other organisms according to how closely they resembled the plant sequence, and identified two amino acid sites that are crucial for phenylalanine production.

Because the phenylalanine pathway is critical to the production of so many valuable plant products, Maeda says the study may eventually have practical benefits. "We hope this might help increase production of nutrients and medicinal compounds."

In terms of basic science, he adds, "Our study provides examples of the complex evolution of plant chemical pathways." During evolution, the need to survive and reproduce forces organisms to continue adapting to their circumstances, he notes. "Plants have had multiple opportunities to adopt different genes (and enzymes) during evolution to meet the challenges of the environment.

"The enzyme that plants adopted from the ancient bacteria was helpful to them when they acquired it, and plants ended up maintaining it, rather than other types from fungi or cyanobacteria. This enzyme and its pathway are now seen across the plant kingdom and allow plants to make such a large variety and quantity of phenolic compounds."
'/>"/>

Contact: Hiroshi Maeda
maeda2@wisc.edu
608-262-5833
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Honoring the fundamental role of microbes in the natural history of our planet
2. Physicists delve into fundamental laws of biological materials
3. New research sheds light on how the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone
4. Salk scientists reveal circuitry of fundamental motor circuit
5. New book from CSHLPress introduces the fundamental principles of signal transduction
6. The future of plant science - a technology perspective
7. The future of plant science a technology perspective
8. Bone marrow transplant arrests symptoms in model of Rett syndrome
9. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
10. Not just for the birds: Man-made noise has ripple effects on plants, too
11. Plant DNA speaks English, identifies new species
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/22/2017)... VILNIUS, Lithuania , March 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... identification and object recognition technologies, today announced the ... development kit (SDK), which provides improved facial recognition ... safety cameras on a single computer. The new ... algorithms to improve accuracy, and it utilizes a ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 21, 2017 ... Cloud used by retailers such as 1-800-Flowers and ... platform — Product Recommendations and Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine ... more personalized product and replenishment recommendations to their ... also on predictions of customer intent drawn from ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Calif. , March 21, 2017 ... analytics company serving law enforcement agencies, announced today the ... as director of public safety business development. ... diversified law enforcement experience, including a focus on the ... In his most recent position, Mr. Sheridan served as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ... Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC), U.K. Biobank and GSK to generate ... U.K. Biobank resource. The initiative will enable researchers to gain ... medicines for a wide range of serious and life threatening ... ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... 22, 2017 , ... Researchers face a fundamental challenge as ... full-size tissues, bones, even whole organs to implant in people to treat disease ... into the developing tissue. , Current bioengineering techniques, including 3-D printing, can’t ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 22, 2017  Ascendis Pharma A/S (Nasdaq: ... TransCon technology to address significant unmet medical needs ... the full year ended December 31, 2016. ... our company as we broadened our pipeline and ... rare disease company with an initial focus on ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 22, 2017  UBM and the Massachusetts ... their extended partnership and the third annual Massachusetts Medtech ... the 21 st Annual MassMEDIC Conference held ... May 3-4, 2017. MassMEDIC will ... (ADVAMED) President and CEO, Scott Whitaker , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: